Friday, June 05, 2009

‘Involve traditional leaders, councils in securing land for ex-miners

‘Involve traditional leaders, councils in securing land for ex-miners
Written by Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Friday, June 05, 2009 11:11:57 PM

MINE Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Rayford Mbulu has urged mining firms and the government to engage traditional leaders and councils in securing land for retrenched miners to pursue alternative livelihoods.

Officially opening the MUZ supreme council at Katilungu House in Kitwe yesterday, Mbulu noted that the prevailing economic situation may not guarantee immediate new jobs for those that had been retrenched and that this therefore entailed the need for former miners to be resettled and empowered with land.

He said empowering ex-miners with land could also assist them in accessing finances from institutions such as the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) to enable them become entrepreneurs.

And Mbulu urged political leaders to regularly visit mine operations and communities for them to appreciate the challenges miners were facing.

He lamented that miners were subjected to poverty, disease and squalor in addition to facing serious occupational health and safety problems.

"We have lost too many lives in mine accidents that we need to put our heads together to compel our investors to put health and safety issues on the mines, and casualisation as primary concerns and profits as a secondary pursuit," he said.

"In line with the promises that were made at the height of elections, we expect our leaders to be accountable to the people and to consult the people on issues and their priority areas of development for good roads, good schools, good hospitals, clean and affordable water, good sanitation and electricity."

Mbulu also called for unity among the MUZ membership saying there could only be one president at a time. He advised members to approach the union whenever they felt it had erred instead of subjecting it to great embarrassment through rumours and gossip.

"Opportunism can be a harzard. You can have zeal but zeal without knowledge can make you burn the whole village," observed Mbulu.

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